Category Archives: cinema

Movie review: Four Weddings and a Funeral

Dalrymple points out that the 1994 film starring the oily Hugh Grant is


It has, he notes,

that kind of self-regarding and self-conscious charm that is not easily distinguishable from oleaginous fraud.

The existential isolation of urban modernity

New York Movie, Edward Hopper, 1939. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Dalrymple writes: ‘An usherette stands aside from the elaborate auditorium with its plush-covered seats. The cinema is mostly empty, and the two audience members one can see are on their own, not sitting next to each other. One senses that they have come to watch the film not from any real desire to see it but simply to fill their minds with something other than thoughts about their situation. Where no community exists, entertainment rushes in to fill the gap.’

The US imperialists: a reckoning

Yankee go home!

Arriving in Uyuni, Potosí, Dalrymple heads for the cinema, where he enjoys a viewing of The Giant Spider Invasion (Bill Rebane 1975), in which arachnids from outer space occupy Merrill, Wisconsin, after a meteorite falls in the area. He writes:

The whole town turned out to cheer the spiders on to victory against the American middle class.



Prolefeed proves hard to swallow

The Dominion, Southall, Middlesex. 1935

The Dominion, Southall, Middlesex. Erected 1935

His brother drags Dalrymple to see

one of those technically sophisticated but childish films that are often commercially very successful.

Emerging from the cinema afterwards, the pair converse.

DALRYMPLE FRÈRE: What did you think?


DALRYMPLE FRÈRE: But it was well made.

DALRYMPLE: Well-made rubbish is still rubbish. The fact that it was well made makes it worse, not better. The deliberate production of intellectual, moral, and artistic dross is a malign form of cynicism.


Certain eminently defensible subsidies

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 08.40.33The best city for cinema, Dalrymple points out, is Paris.

You have only to go round the corner to see an intelligent and unusual film. In other places it takes a special effort to do so, if it is possible at all. Even the commercial cinemas in Paris show better films than elsewhere, reflecting the more elevated taste of the Parisian public.

Dalrymple once spent a week in Paris seeing two or three films a day from exotic places.

They often showed at tiny cinemas at odd times in the morning, and sometimes I was the only viewer. If there was anyone else present he or she was usually a peculiar person, even a psychiatrically disturbed one.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 08.49.31This

of course stimulated in me a certain amount of self-examination. The cinemas must have been subsidised by the city, for the seats were very cheap, and while I am in general and on principle opposed to subsidies I am, of course, in favour of them for the things that I am interested in and benefit from. Those subsidies seem to me eminently defensible, and it always gives me a certain wicked pleasure to know that each time I travel on the TGV the French taxpayer is contributing to my fare. The pleasure, I should imagine, is not reciprocal.


Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 23.56.43Dalrymple behaving badly

He settles down to enjoy a movie at the cinema, having been dragged there by his chums. A notice from the British Board of Film Classification, shown before the start, warns gravely that the film will contain possibly corrupting scenes of tobacco ingestion.

I guffawed: not only could I not stop myself, I considered it my public duty to do so.